New tiles based on biopolymer composites

image Even tiles can be based on renewable raw materials. Fraunhofer researchers are exhibiting how renewable, biostable raw materials can be used in architecture, interior design and the packaging industry at this year’s International Green Week in Berlin from January 18 to 27.

They consist of a mixture of linseed oil epoxy, various natural fibers and diatomaceous earth, a material that is procured from fossilized diatoms. New bio-based tile systems, like the ones designed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Halle (Germany), are environmentally friendly, lighter-weight and – depending on their manufacturing and material properties – more resource- and energy-efficient than conventional ceramic materials. “The composite is not hard as glass and brittle like conventional epoxy, but flexible and more pliable instead. This makes it easier to work with the tiles,” says Andreas Krombholz, scientist in the natural composites division at IWM. The new composites also put a completely new spin on architectural perspectives. In the molding process, they can be shaped on an entirely customized basis, and shaped into squares, triangles or circles, for example. Even patterns and colors can be tailor-made.

By adding fluorescent pigments to the blend, they are transformed into light tiles. This means they can be used both outdoors and indoors, serving as illuminated guideposts on floors and walls. The same bio-tiles can also be installed in kitchens and bathrooms and can serve as indoor floor coverings.

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Films for façades

The plastic film ETFE is experiencing a boom these days because it gives architects completely new design options. It can be used not only for futuristic sports stadiums, but also to insulate and for the heating control of buildings. The Eden Project in Southern England, the National Aquatics Center built for swimming events at the Olympics in Beijing and the Allianz Arena in Munich are only three examples of what can be done from plastic sheets. Ethylene tetraflourethylene (ETFE), a transparent membrane, is especially popular because it enables buildings that shine in all colors as in Munich and Peking. This new material improves temperature and light control according to needs. Experts see film construction as a market poised for the future.

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New additive system for rotational sintering

image Rotational sintering is a process that is suitable for shaping large hollow articles made of plastic, especially polyethylene (PE). These include all kinds of tanks, transportation containers and recreational articles such as kayaks and toys. The advantages of this production process include, in particular, the wide array of design possibilities and the low investment costs. Nevertheless, it entails some challenges. Relatively long processing times and high oven temperatures place extraordinary demands on the stability of the plastic. Moreover, the process is very energy-intensive. Irgastab® RM 68 is an additive system made by BASF specifically for plastics that are processed by means of rotational sintering. It optimizes the sintering process, improves the quality of the final product and helps to save energy. READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Light as a feather, warming like a duvet

The melamine resin foam Basotect as an energy-efficient material

image In view of the rising demands on energy efficiency and the efficient use of materials, thermal insulation and lightweight construction are becoming increasingly important. The BASF foam Basotect® offers economical, tailor-made solutions for using energy and materials in a way that conserves resources. This allows low energy consumption, lower CO2 emissions and an ecologically correct lifestyle. The areas of construction and mobility derive particular benefit from the potential of this thermally insulating and lightweight material for boosting energy efficiency: Now, Basotect is increasingly used in solar thermal energy systems, in air-conditioning technology, and in high-speed trains. READ THE FULL ARTICLE